We said rushed goodbyes because the public shuttle was already running late and people had planes to catch. The driver climbed up onto the top of his van, a dull shade of gray, and piled up the girls’ luggage, securing it while we all kind of stood around each other—fumbling around the reality of the moment. Someone held Misha, our rambunctious guard dog. But strangely even she seemed melancholy.
I hate goodbyes. It’s the hardest part about this lifestyle, the constant influx and outflow of people. When the moment finally arrives, I can’t make eye contact and I definitely can’t speak without becoming a tiny little puddle on the floor. On this day, standing outside the gate of our house, I say nothing and look nowhere and am still in great danger of puddling quite inconveniently all over the sidewalk.
When the driver hopped off the van, he said loudly in a gruff English that they needed to hurry. I bit my lip. The van was filled with older Western tourists wearing straw hats and billowy shirts, their eyebrows furrowed at the prospect of being late due to the prolonged goodbye of strangers. I traded quick hugs with closed eyes and hoped that the tiny notes I had written them both would be enough to convey how important they have each been to me in this season of my life. My hilarious, protective, insightful older sisters; how I missed them already.
They were brave, with cheerful smiles no doubt fueled by the adrenaline of finally returning to the familiar landscapes of a life in north Georgia—a land filled with old friends and enough plumbing capacity to flush toilet paper!—after months and months away. (It’s the little things, folks.)
So we each had a quick moment and then they jumped into the van; the doors slamming shut and the van speeding off, leaving a trail of dust as we stepped out into the street to wave goodbye until they turned the corner. I sighed.
We returned inside the house and sat back down at the table. Our numbers were getting smaller, and would continue to shrink in the weeks to come. Next week, three more people leave. But to be honest, we can’t say we didn’t see it coming. We did. We knew. But we hardly expected it so soon, all the changes clustered together in a tangled knot of calendar days barely weeks apart.
Things are shifting here. The snow is melting. Responsibilities are being transferred, fresh ideas are brewing, new opportunities are opening. At first it was slow, but the pace is quickening; with changes coming more rhythmically, like the contractions that preface a birth.
It’s uncomfortable, to say the least.
In the midst of these contractions, some days I wake up and ask Him if the risk is worth it. Will we end before we begin? Will we die in the middle of this painful labor? Will the complications become too much? Will we even know how to take care of what will be given to us?
I wait for carefully laid out solutions. Instead, He holds my hand and tells me that we’re ready.
These are the birthing pains. He’s making way for a new thing. I don’t know what it is, but I know it will be good. I can feel the excitement that’s budding, the anticipation that is blooming in fields peppered with young flowers unfurling like question marks. He hasn’t promised me all the answers, but He has promised me Himself.
And even with the risks that hang in the balance, even with the answers I don’t have, I trust Him when He whispers that yes-yes-yes: what’s being birthed will be worth it.